Fall Rose Care

There are several things you can do to make sure your roses survive our Nebraska winters long before the cold winds blow. First, choose the most winter hardy roses available to plant in your rose bed. Next, make sure your roses are healthy and not under stress as they go into winter. Strong plants have a better chance of surviving the winter than weak plants. The most important thing you can do to reduce stress on your roses is to irrigate them adequately in late autumn. The last fertilization of roses should have been done in early August and no further applications should be made later in the year.

Hilling or mounding soil around the base of the plant protects bush-type roses, like hybrid teas, floribundas, and grandifloras but should not be done until after the first hard freeze has caused all the roses leaves to fall.

Begin by removing fallen leaves and other debris from around each plant. Removing all of the old leaves is very important, especially if disease problems occurred during the summer. Leaves serve as a good source of overwintering fungal spores that can re-infect your plants next year.

Prune out any broken, damaged or disease canes. If the plant is tall, loosely tie the remaining canes together with twine to prevent damage from strong winds.

Then mound soil, compost or wood chips up round the base of the plants about 10-12 inches tall. Place straw or shredded leaves over the soil mound for additional protection.

If a styrofoam rose cone is used, prune the bushes to allow the cones to be place over the plants and again remove any broken, damaged or disease canes. Mound 6-8 inches of soil up around the base of each plant since the cone alone won't provide adequate winter protection. Then place a cone over each rose, securing it with heavy objects. Make small holes or slits in the top of the cone to provide ventilation.

Winter protection for climbing roses is imperative as most bloom on the previous year's growth. One method of protection is to attach a sturdy pole to a fence or trellis above the climbers crown. Untie the canes from the fence or trellis and retie them securely to the pole. Wrap the canes in burlap and stuff the whole thing full of straw. This will insulate the plant somewhat from temperature extremes and protect it from drying winter winds.

Again, protect the base of the plant by mounding up soil or compost. Another method is to remove the canes from the trellis and bury them in a shallow trench, followed by a covering of 3-4 inches of soil. After the soil freezes, clean mulch may be added. This will keep the sun from thawing the soil too early in the spring. Remember, plants need watering during dry winters, especially in December, January and February.